Arkansas’s Buffalo National River is facing a dire threat because of a new bill in the Arkansas Legislature. Republican state Senator Gary Stubblefield (Branch) is running a bill (SB550) that strip away protections that have made the Buffalo River one of the most wild and pristine waterways in the world. Instead, Stubblefield would turn it into a dumping ground for industrial hog farms.
His bill doesn’t just threaten the Buffalo, all of Arkansas’s waterways would face a new threat to water quality. SB550 would open the floodgates for liquid waste to flow down our streams and rivers.
SB550 is set to run in the House Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development Committee next Wednesday, March 27th at 10:00 A.M.
Arkansas Democrats can be counted on to stand up against any bill that imperils Arkansas’s water and the Buffalo National River. It’s a Democratic tradition. In 2013, Democratic legislators Greg Leding (Fayetteville) and Warwick Sabin (Little Rock) introduced and passed a moratorium on industrial hog farms along the river, which protected one of Arkansas’s finest natural treasures.
But Stubblefield’s bill imperils our water. It would shift regulatory authority away from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and into the hands of the Arkansas Natural Resources Commision (ANRC). In effect, this puts the fox in charge of the hen house.
By making this shift, it would protect hog farms from regulation under the Arkansas Water Control and Pollution Act, and allow local commissions the authority to issue liquid waste permits.
Furthermore, the bill would also allow applicants for a manure waste system permit to waive public notification requirements, essentially preventing the public from even having the right to know about plans which could have severe environmental consequences.
Thankfully, Stubblefield’s bill has faced opposition from several groups, including Central Arkansas Water, who claims that this bill “has the potential to expose some of the state’s most important natural resources, including public drinking water reservoirs, to liquid animal waste.”
The bill passed through the Senate last Tuesday, and is set to run in the House Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development Committee next Wednesday, March 27th at 10:00 A.M. For a full list of committee members and contact information, click here.